Review: 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

17 Sep

31 HoursMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’d expected 31 Hours to be high on the action. The action wasn’t physical, it was all inside the character’s heads.

From the Unbridled Books website:

A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother’s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn’t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won’t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Islam and his experiences training in Pakistan, preparing for the violent action he has been instructed to take in 31 hours.

I found it to be highly compelling reading.  The words were amazing, driving me on without slowing me down, being exactly what was needed to tell the story.

I was astounded at how real all of the characters were. I felt like I got to know all of them.

This isn’t to say I never got confused by the book. I’d frequently have to pause at the beginning of a chapter to orient myself as to who I was dealing with– each chapter featured a different character selected from a large cast.

As I jumped from character to character, I understood how they were feeling.

This is really a big deal.

Certainly, understanding the worried mother, the confused girlfriend, her unhappy younger sister are people I’d expect to understand. Even the subway panhandler is someone I could imagine getting to know in another book.

I felt I understood Jonas as he was preparing to become a terrorist. I didn’t agree, of course. But I could see his sad, twisted view.   I think that we will be far more successful in stopping acts like this if we understand why the individuals involved make the choices they do. Not the organizations, but the individuals.

Just as we were understanding Jonas, and what her was going to do, we also were being brought to understand what he did not.  The true consequences of his action.

A great read, and very much worth thinking about.

I think 31 Hours would make a great book club selection, with fantastic discussion potential in the content, as well as how the story was told.

Thank you to Unbridled Books for sending me this book to review and including me in this tour.


Posted by on September 17, 2009 in books, reviews, tour


Tags: , , , ,

11 responses to “Review: 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

  1. Sue

    September 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Wow, this sounds like a great book, Laura. i completely agree with what you said about the importance of trying to understand individual’s motivations in becoming terrorists. Our society as a whole doesn’t seem too tuned into trying to understand other points of view these days – lots of shouting of opinions but very little listening.

    Thanks for the excellent review –


  2. Belle

    September 17, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    This definitely sounds like a good book club choice, Laura. A little too intense for me, I think, but I can imagine some really good discussions!

  3. Lisa

    September 17, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    This is getting such great reviews. Guess I’m going to have to break down and add it to the tbr list.

  4. Sherry

    September 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I think this one might a bit difficult to get through; I’m not sure I want to understand what goes through the mind of a terrorist even though I believe that there but for the grace of God . . .

    At any rate, you are cordially invited to share links to your reviews at the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. It’s a good way to advertise your reviews and share your reading finds with others.

    • Laura at Im Booking It

      September 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

      The power of this book was that the soon to be terrorist wasn’t a terrifyingly different person with horrible, violent thoughts.

      He was a very mixed up kid. He’s convinced that he’s going to help the world by doing this. The scariest thing about the book is that he could be someone you or I know.


Leave a Reply to Belle Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: